Compiled by Arturo R. García
For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death. When we’ve seen video footage of foreigners cheering terrorist attacks against America, we have ignored their insistence that they are celebrating merely because we have occupied their nations and killed their people. Instead, we have been rightly disgusted — not only because they are lauding the death of our innocents, but because, more fundamentally, they are celebrating death itself. That latter part had been anathema to a nation built on the presumption that life is an “unalienable right.”
But in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys. Indeed, an America that once carefully refrained from flaunting gruesome pictures of our victims for fear of engaging in ugly death euphoria now ogles pictures of Uday and Qusay’s corpses, rejoices over images of Saddam Hussein’s hanging and throws a party at news that bin Laden was shot in the head.
This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory — he has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history — the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.
- David Sirota, Salon
It was a joke that turned out to be shockingly topical on [Seth] Meyers’ part, though a decade-long search for the terrorist mastermind certainly warrants the occasional bit of humor about his evasive techniques.
Meyers quipped: “People think bin Laden is hiding in the Hindu Kush, but did you know that every day from 4 to 5 he hosts a show on C-SPAN?”
Post-punchline, Obama gave a toothy smile — and was he even blushing? Perhaps his look was one of genuine surprise to hear bin Laden’s name come up in a joke, knowing secretly what was happening in Abbottabad. Perhaps he was just responding heartily to the humor. One thing’s for certain: we wouldn’t want to be across the table from Barack in Vegas.
- Nick Carbone, Time
Here, you know, I think Republicans should stand up and certainly salute Barack Obama for making some — again, for making some very tough choices that his own base did not want him to make. That takes courage, that takes leadership, and we saw the results of that courage and leadership saying no to his own base yesterday.[...]
[These are] decisions that he probably did not believe as a candidate he didn’t think he’d have to make…Going against his own ideological leanings to do what he believes he has to do.
- Joe Scarborough, MSNBC (via The Daily Kos)
“What I have said is we’re going encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our non-military aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants. And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaida. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”
- Barack Obama, Oct. 7, 2008 (via Crooks and Liars)
I sincerely hope that those people who believe that Obama is some sort of secret Muslim working in cahoots with those who hate America find themselves chastened. Those people are out there — I’ve seen the Tea Party signs and crazy blog posts/emails — and I hope they are eating crow today. (sorry, must pause to roll eyes from back of head after spontaneous eyeroll/head shake combo). Not that there’s anything wrong with being Muslim! It would be fine if Obama were Muslim. He could still defend America as many U.S. troops who are Muslim do everyday. But that’s been used as a swipe to undermine Obama’s patriotism – the whole “Obama is a secret Muslim hellbent on destroying America” and it’s clear now that people who believed that were clownin’ hard.
- Cheryl Contee, Jack & Jill Politics
Look, part of the argument against this reduction is that it was reputational, for staying in Afghanistan. ‘We can’t look like America was driven out.’ ‘We can’t go away with our tail between our legs.’ All of those metaphors. Well, we just killed Osama bin Laden, and I think that takes a lot of the pressure away — a lot of the punch away from the argument that ‘oh, it will look like we walked away.’”
- Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), in an interview with ThinkProgress
Our economy is defined by greed. The top 1 percent of earners take home a quarter of income in this country. Wall Street banks are logging record profits while the Treasury Department professes helplessness at the fact that tens of millions of people are still losing their homes to those banks. Because of that foreclosure crisis, the stunning racial wealth gap—the typical black family has a dime for a dollar of wealth held by its white counterpart—will surely grow worse. The White House is paralyzed with inaction in the face of all of these challenges. But it can kill, so we are great.
We have the world’s most expensive health care system, and yet in 2009 infant mortality in the U.S. was higher than in 29 other countries and the worst among rich nations. Why? In large part because the infant mortality rate is so high among black and Latina women. We cannot find justice for them, but we can kill and call it justice.
We have a $14 trillion deficit. A massive giveaway to defense contractors lurks inside that number—a transfer of public funds that has been justified, in ways both explicit and implicit, by the evil visage of Osama Bin Laden. And now, Washington is as likely as not to make up the loss by taking apart the safety net that once created something like economic justice in America. But the president would like us to agree that we are great because we can kill.
- Kai Wright, Colorlines